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Medical Malpractice: What You Need to Know

Feb 9, 2017
Medical Malpractice: What You Need to Look Out For

Thousands of people are injured every year as a result of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider-a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital, or hospital worker-whose performance of duties departs from a standard of practice of those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient.

People injured by medical malpractice seek legal help. Experienced attorneys like those at Parker Waichman can offer information and advice to those who may have a malpractice claim

The Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case

A poor outcome from surgery or medical treatment is not, in itself, an indication of medical malpractice. A patient can react unpredictably to medications or procedures. During a surgery, the surgeon may find that an injury or condition is more serious than previously known or a cancer is more advanced or more widespread. Chronic conditions, for example, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, can complicate the treatment. If the patient does not fully disclose medical history, including medication and drug use, the physician may not be able to properly treat the patient.

To prevail in a malpractice case, the patient must demonstrate certain elements:

  • the person must have been under the care of a physician;
  • in the course of advising, diagnosing, or treating the patient, the physician failed to act as a doctor in the specialty should act;
  • as a result, the patient was injured, became ill, or a condition or injury worsened.

    Medical malpractice lawsuits can be brought against a hospital for administering improper doses of medication, negligent nursing care, inadequate sanitation, infection, or equipment failure. A suit can be brought against a physician who deviates from the general accepted standards of practice or a specialist who deviates from the nationally accepted standard of practice for specialists in that field of medicine. Some cases are brought against a government agency that operates hospitals or provides specified medical care.

    In many malpractice cases, the patient alleges that the physician delayed diagnosis of a medical condition or failed to diagnose the condition altogether; the physician made the correct diagnosis then failed to properly treat the medical condition; the physician failed to perform a surgical procedure properly; or the physician fails to obtain the informed consent of the patient before performing a procedure or operation.

    Examples of Malpractice

    Examples of Malpractice
    • Improper treatment: A doctor does not properly set a broken leg. The fracture does not heal properly and the person has difficulty walking.
    • Injury during birth (to mother or child): An obstetrician mishandles a baby's head during birth, causing Erb's palsy or other nerve or neck injury. The obstetrician does not perform a caesarean section when needed; the mother bleeds profusely during birth, resulting in stroke, The baby may suffer brain injury due to lack of oxygen.
    • Prescription errors: a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, an incorrect dose of a medication, or does not notice a notation that the patient is allergic to that medication. Prescription errors can mean the patient is not getting effective treatment or the error can result in further symptoms or even death.
    • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis.
    • Failure to monitor: After a minor heart attack, for example, if the doctor fails to properly monitor the patient, the patient could suffer a second, more severe heart attack.
    • Surgical errors: A doctor may use the wrong procedure, injuring the patient. The surgeon operates on the wrong body part or amputates the wrong limb. Or the surgeon leaves a surgical sponge or instrument inside the body, causing infection or organ damage.
    • Failure to inform the patient of the risks of the procedure: When the doctor does not properly inform the patient of the risks associated with a procedure, the patient may sue for malpractice if the patient can show he or she would not have undergone the procedure if the patient had you known the risks.

    In medical malpractice cases, both the patient and the doctor, hospital, or health care professional will call expert witnesses to prove their arguments. An expert witness is usually another doctor or health care professional who has special knowledge about the specific issues in the case. The expert can provide an opinion about the professional standards of the medical community and whether the actions conduct breached the standards.

    Legal Help For People Affected By Medical Malpractice If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered adverse health affects because of medical malpractice, please contact Parker Waichman for free, no obligation evaluation of a possible case. Fill out the online contact form or call at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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